Getty Images has filed their official response to Carol Highsmith’s highly-publicized $1 Billion copyright claim against the company. And the gist of the response is, in essence, “no take backsies.”
Highsmith sued the company for “gross misuse” and “false attribution” of 18,755 of her photographs that are, in fact, in the Public Domain. But Getty claims the suit has no legs to stand on specifically because the photos are in the Public Domain.
“Public domain works are routinely commercialized,” writes Getty. “Publishers charge money for their copies of Dickens novels and Shakespeare plays, etc.” That, claims Getty, is what they’re doing with Highsmith’s work, and it’s totally legal.
Highsmith claims Getty violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provision that states a party can’t remove, modify or falsify copyright management information, “with intent to induce, enable, facilitate, or conceal infringement.” But Getty points out that, since Highsmith’s photos are in the Public Domain, they can’t be infringed upon in the first place.
Getty’s response attempts to break down, piece-by-piece, each of the claims Highsmith is making—from the federal all the way down to the state level. Their hope is that the judge will dismiss the case before it ever makes it to court. Unfortunately, it could be months before a decision is passed down.